Jean M. Maier, Northwestern Mutual

Jean M. Maier

Leaders in Insurance

Editors’ Note

Jean Maier joined Northwestern Mutual in 1979 and has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility in departments including Compliance, New Business, and Field Services and Support. She serves on the company’s Management Committee and the Board for the Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company. Maier received a B.A. in History from Macalester College. She is a Fellow in the Life Management Institute, and is a registered representative and principal.

Company Brief

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with $1.2 trillion of life insurance protection in force, the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (www.northwesternmutual.com) has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 155 years. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer financial security solutions including life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company; Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments.

How do you define your role and your key areas of focus?

Operations and Technology is very focused on making sure that we create efficiencies and capacity for our financial representatives, our clients, and employees at our home office. But it’s also about reinforcing financial security for our clients.

When I first thought about how Operations and Technology could support the field/clients, I thought of it as putting wheels on peoples’ suitcases. Later I realized we needed to do more than that. We have to ensure that everything packed inside that suitcase is the right clothing for the right weather for the right job. So we work to facilitate the relationship that the financial rep has with the client.

How critical is technology and how much of a focus has the investment in it been?

Our interest in technology has accelerated over the past decade because there are tools now that are not have-to tools but want-to tools. No matter what age people are in our field force, they’re willingness to play with an iPad is a testament to their desire to use these tools to support the client relationship.

Our Consolidated Client View is a tool that assists in the financial planning process. We give clients a full picture of what they have with us and all the products and services that we offer. In order to build this, we had to get input from key stakeholders. We got them together and simulated what we thought would be best for the financial reps when they work with their clients. We met weekly for one year and kept refining the tool until we got what the reps wanted. We then conducted focus groups with reps as well as clients to fine tune the tool further.

How do you utilize technology while still maintaining personal relationships?

We use technology to enhance the relationship between the rep and the client, not replace it. For example, with the iPad, reps are beginning to see that technology does not have to interfere with the relationship; rather, it helps them sit side by side with their clients and build the relationships.

In fact, in our new client Internet site, the client will be able to enter through the financial rep’s Web site. So we’re building everything with the financial representative/client relationship in mind.

What are you most focused on to make sure Northwestern continues to lead in this space?

We are focused on three basic goals: manage the fundamentals – fulfilling the obligations we have to our contracts with courtesy and dignity; increase capacity, be it in the field, the home office, or for the client, which makes it easier to get the job done; and doing everything we can to support the achievement of financial security, because that is what this company and my area is about.•